The Pendulum Method
It is a timing-based technique that allows for the measurement of the allocated time for each task. Originally used to quantify the average time required for the execution of relatively repetitive tasks in administrative services, this method involves having an experienced person perform these tasks at a normal pace. The time for each task is then recorded, and by dividing the total elapsed time by the number of tasks, the average execution time per task is obtained.
When applied to personal time management, the Pendulum Method can be adapted by using an activity tracking sheet. As the name suggests, this tool helps you monitor the time spent on various activities. It is a simple and fairly easy-to-use tool with the primary goal of assisting you in timing how long it takes to complete an activity.
In a second step, its usefulness lies in your ability to critically assess the relevance of the timed duration. In other words, is it too long or not long enough for the activity in question? To create your activity tracking sheet, simply take a blank sheet of paper and create five columns:
- A column for start time: note the time you start the activity
- A column for the activity: describe the action you are performing
- A column for end time: note the time you finish the activity
- A column for duration: note the time it took to complete the activity. This is simply the difference between the end time and the start time of the activity.
- A column for comments: note any conditions related to the execution of this activity. These conditions may affect the speed of task execution.
I recommend doing this exercise every day for a week across all your activities. Why a week? Simply because you will have data to compare activity by activity over several days, and it will also be easier to perform your self-analysis.
Indeed, this comparison of times will allow you to identify productive and unproductive times. In other words, you will realize that at certain times, you were able to complete the activity quickly, and at other times, less so. It will then be up to you, considering the identified differences and the conditions in which the activity was executed, to establish what the optimal duration is for carrying out the said activity. This duration will then become your reference when planning similar activities in the future.
This text is an extract from the book “5 steps to (re)take control of your TIME and your life” written by Henri M. Missola